Friday, January 9, 2009

Visiting Aketi Kigoma

Now that we were both (finally) healthy at the same time (scandal!!), Adam and I got to walk down to the sanctuary yesterday to visit our favorite little guys -- Kathé, Aketi Kigoma, Mangé, Django Mayanga and Bolungwa.

For me, it was the first time I’d gotten to visit Aketi Kigoma since dropping him off at the sanctuary for integration. Of course, I’d dropped him off, waited five days so that he could acclimate to new mommies, and then come down with terrible malaria.

Since the sanctuary is about 2 miles from the house, maybe a little less, it’s quite a walk when you’re not feeling well! But yesterday, leaving early before the oppressing heat moved in, the walk was great!

I know enough Lingala now to keep us from having a huge entourage of children (most importantly, phrases like “Go away!” or “Stay there!” or “Leave us alone please!”), so we were relatively unmolested on the walk!

Oh! And since I’ve been here so long and have also learned enough Lingala to say “My name isn’t Whitey! My name is Lola! Your name isn’t Blackie, is it?!” -- when I walk down the street people call out “Lola! Lola! Hello!” and it’s wonderful to hear!

And oh what a joy to see the kids (chimps) again! They’re all doing so well, and Aketi Kigoma has folded into their little hairy community so well! He’s very independent, and doesn’t seem quite as attached to the guys there as he was to us at the house, but it’s only because he seems attached now to the other chimpanzees!

It’s so wonderful to see -- such a proud moment -- when your little one is out foraging on his own and scampering around with his “brothers” and “sisters”.

Of course, he doesn’t recognize me or Adam, but it’s usual since we only spent 1.5 months with him and baby chimps tend to have two settings: Momma and Not-the-Momma.

I’m sure the more time we spend there the more he’ll reacclimate to us, and it gives us motivation to spend more time there now that we are healthy!

Despite Aketi’s trepidation about playing with us again, we still played lots and lots with the other kids, and there is nothing that makes me happier than seeing them so happy and well-fed and well-adjusted. Even Mangé seems to be mellowing!

Django and Bolungwa have such funny interactions, and Django is so eager to have everyone pay attention to him now that he is no longer the baby! Adam, funnily, says that maybe we should change his name to Djealous Mayanga!

Adam and I will return to the sanctuary tomorrow early in the morning (before the heat sets in) and spend another day there! It’s such a great thing to look forward to!

No comments: